Rugby Union: Wisbech boss Leonard Veenendaal aims for top two league finish despite 'disappointing' pre-season
The Fenland side narrowly missed out on the play-off places last season despite an impressive campaign, and South African coach Veenendaal has welcomed a handful of new recruits ahead of their league bow against fellow title challengers, Wymondham, tomorrow.
However, Veenendaal has been critical of his players ahead of the new league campaign, questioning their commitment.
He said: “I have to be honest and I say I’m disappointed in a handful of young players’ lack of commitment to pre-season.
“I was hoping they would step up and take what they achieved last season to the next level. Our pre-season preparations have not been to the same standard compares to the last three.
“Saying that, I do take heart from the likes of Alec South, Jacob Goat, Rory Willis, David Brodie, Will Boreham and Phil Cooper, who have all impressed with their commitment, putting in the hard pre-season fitness work.”
Wisbech will face Wymondham without stalwarts James Griffen and Ben Chapman, who have retired, and Raimondas Vinska and James Patrick who are nursing injuries.
However, they will welcome back hooker Nathaniel Humphreys and prop Sigitas ČCiakas alongside new acquisition, Jake Read from London North West Division 2 side Chiswick.
“I am looking forward to the return of Humphreys alongside the powerhouse ČCiakas and the extra dimension Read brings to the back row,” Veenendaal said.
“Jake has played at a good level and can also cover hooker. As a squad we have set a target to finish in the league in the top two alongside a strong performance in the RFU Cup.
“I have to sincerely thank Buddy Lee from Wisbech Boxing Club and Mark Laws, Strength and Conditioning coach at Jordan Fitness for their work and help improving the squad’s fitness over the last eight weeks and Alan Bird from Fenland Running Club for his time doing the dreaded fitness tests.”
Wisbech brought their pre-season to a close with a 24-11 loss to higher-level West Norfolk last weekend.